“To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:”
This verse identifies the recipients of the epistle.
To the church of God
The church at Corinth was God’s church, not Paul’s church or the church of the church members located at Corinth. It was God’s church. The word “church” literally means called out ones. God calls out certain people who trust Christ to forgive their sins as His own people.
which is at Corinth,
Corinth was the greatest pleasure city of the ancient world. It was the vanity fair of the Roman Empire. The population of the city was over 600,000 people. The city located on the only isthmus in the Empire. Sailors stayed in the city while their cargo and small ships rolled across the isthmus. It was very dangerous to sail around the southern peninsula of Greece. Many traders stayed in Corinth as well.
Corinth was famous as a military center with a fort, a trade center, and for its temple of Aphrodite. There were about 1000 prostitutes, both male, and female, in the temple. Aphrodite was the same as Venus, the goddess of love. Worship in the temple involved eating the best meat in town, the best alcoholic beverages, and participation in sex with a priestess who served Aphrodite. The city was filled with a transient population – military, traders, sailors, merchants, etc. The most popular sport in the first century was the Isthmus Games, even more popular than the Olympic Games. They held the Isthmus games at the great Coliseum at the isthmus outside Corinth. Athletic games were very popular among the Greeks.
Paul arrived in Corinth on his second missionary journey through the ancient world in about 50 A.D. He traveled from Jerusalem to Asia Minor (Turkey today), arriving at Troas. God gave Paul a call by a vision to go to Macedonia (in Greece). He went to Philippi, then Thessalonica, then Athens, and finally just a few miles farther to the city of Corinth. He founded the church there, spent a year and a half ministering to them, and then sailed on to Ephesus on his way to Jerusalem. He then came back to Ephesus, where he receives word of problems in the Corinthian church. After Paul founded the church at Corinth, he left the church with Apollos to lead (Ac 18:1-18). Apollos was an orator, and the Greeks loved oratory.
After Paul left the church, the church broke into divisions and schisms. Gossips gained the ascendancy. Vindictiveness and implacability became the norm of operation. They also degenerated into license. Apollos later went to Ephesus to tell Paul about the mess in the church. Later the house of Chloe also came to tell Paul about the problems at Corinth. Paul sent Titus to address spiritual issues in the church.
Titus carried the epistle of 1 Corinthians from Paul. About five years later, Paul wrote a letter now lost to address issues in the church. That letter did not solve the problem, so he wrote the correcting epistle of 1 Corinthians (which is his second letter to Corinth).
We represent Christ through our identity with Him to every church throughout the world.
Each church has a responsibility to every church in the world because the church is God’s church.
1 Co 4:17, For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.
The church is God’s church, not the denomination’s church or a group of local leaders.